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Lighting to Simplify Your Edit

Lesson 4 of 16

The Portrait Formula and Maximizing Opportunities

Daniel Kudish

Lighting to Simplify Your Edit

Daniel Kudish

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Lesson Info

4. The Portrait Formula and Maximizing Opportunities

Lesson Info

The Portrait Formula and Maximizing Opportunities

When it comes to portraits what we have learned over the years, and it goes back to when we just started in 2008, 2009, is that it's really important to cover our basis. Cover our basis means capturing all of this. So making sure that we have a photo of the bride looking at the camera, full body, medium body, of her flowers. Same with the groom, close, medium, far. Then they two of them together, close, medium, far. Having all of these photos done allows us to remove that mental pressure, to take that weight off our shoulders, and focus on the creative portraits that we are really excited to be doing. So at a bare minimum we wanna get all of these photos. We will take the first five, 10 minutes, when we start our portraits, to get this out of the way. Once that's done, mentally, that pressure disappears, and we can just really focus on being creative. So when we do our live shoot today, here at the studio, you'll see we'll take the first few minutes just get those out of the way, it's ...

done very systematically, and then we'll be able to play a little bit more with our photos. When we have a longer shoot we'll usually start with this, do a few more creative photos, and then if we find another interesting background, we'll maybe do a second round of safer photos, with the two of them. That mentality of getting the safe stuff out of the way, is something that we apply throughout the entire wedding day. Even in more candid moments, for example, at a reception, covering all of the guests, as much as possible, as quickly as possible, and as early in the process as possible, is what allows us to then focus on the moments and really capture the wedding creatively. Once we know that our responsibility is fulfilled, mentally that pressure rhenishes and we can carry on. Oops, sorry too fast. Alright, so when we're in good light, we really wanna make sure that we maximize our opportunity because rather than jumping from one spot to the next, to the next, to the next, every time we do that we kind of have to start our thought process over, we have to start our discussion over with the couple, everything just kinda restarts over. Whereas in a situation where we have good light already, why not try to make the most out of it, and not have to, kinda, restart, reboot everything mentally. So with Joriana and Jay, which was a wedding in DC, this is where we did their safe portraits. Kind of very similar to the room where we are here, very nice, simple, even light in the middle of the day. So we did their portraits there as well. We did all of the details with them. Then without having them move, we just quickly switched up the pose, get the two of them together, and really maximize our opportunity. Nothing too crazy, but again, the situation is good where we are so why do anything different? Then this ended up being our favorite version. From that, just again, very simple, black and white grid pose, good light, doesn't need to be more complicated than that. The final sequence was a lot of variations, a lot of the same photos. We like to deliver a mix of color and black-and-white photos. So we shoot a lot and keep a lot of images to make sure that the client gets a lot of variety. With Katherine and Richard, a wedding we photographed in Montreal. So we did their portraits in a ballroom. sorry There we go. Again, the opportunity is great here, we have interesting ambient light, we have a bit of that daylight coming in from the windows, so we have the blues and yellows playing together. So our mental state is to not go somewhere else in the hotel, it's really to stay in that room and really try to make the most out of it. Once we did the wider, more environmental photo, the other photographer was shooting a little bit, with a longer lens, getting a different angle on that. Then we decided to play a little bit more with the elements on the table themselves. So again, the bride and groom haven't moved, they're still in that same pose, in the same spot where they were in the first photo. So three different photos that came out of just that one spot. And then we sat them down on the chairs, again, use our video light to light them, and include a little bit more of the elements. What's nice here too is that we are including some of their detail decor elements, which are very personal to them. So we wanna showcase that and know that those photos are gonna be a little bit extra special for the two of them. So while this is one version of the photo, the other one gets something a little bit different. Shooting through some of the elements, through the candles on the table, and get something a little bit different. So again, in that one room, I showed you five different photos that we got, but out of those we have different expressions on their faces, and then we deliver a color and black-and-white version as well. So it's easily 20, 30 photos that we can deliver to them, in a span of five, 10 minutes that we had been photographing them. So we're gonna try to replicate that here as well today. Annalie and Haig, another wedding we did in Montreal. Again, great opportunity in the window. Here we go. Beautiful architecture, good light on the two of them. So there's really no need to venture out and try to do much more with this. Let's try and maximize what we have in front of us. So this is on one side of the building, and then we simply brought them to the front to another window in their hotel room. Same architecture but shot from a very different angle. Again, maximizing the opportunity for the best photos. Then the last one is inside the room, much close to the two of them, double exposure, so one photo of the two of them, and then simply turn around and do a second exposure on the buildings. Again, same elements. The architecture, the two of them, the good light that was already present, really just maximize it to get as many photos as possible. Um Sunny Sunrise. Yes. One of our students out there. Awesome. Fun name. Going back just a little bit Daniel, your video light, is that handheld or is that something that you attach to the camera? Right, so it's always handheld. We actually just recently got a light stand, just so the two of us could keep shooting while the video light is on, rather than sacrificing one of us to hold the light. So it's on the light stand, but it's never on the camera. The challenge, if you put it on the camera, is that the light is always gonna be very flat. It's gonna be coming from the same angle as the one that you're shooting from. So you're not gonna get much depth and dimension to the light itself. Cool, and during the Optimizing your Opportunities segment folks were asking a little bit about your pre-visualization when you're, is it done before hand or do you really, like, arrive first and sort of think about compositionally how you're gonna create an image. Definitely, I think, again, going back to that mental state, the mental aspect is so important in what we do in photography because if it's chaotic in our head, the experience is gonna be very chaotic, right? So we really wanna try to stay calm, and yeah, pre-shooting, pre-visualizing, knowing what we're gonna do with our composition, with our lighting, with our framing, allows us to shoot with a much calmer state, and really get the best photos possible. That isn't to say that we need to be 100% rigid and stick exactly 100% to what we're about to do, you need to have some flexibility to adapt to different situations, but it definitely always helps to know what we're gonna do ahead of time

Class Description

Good lighting makes for an easier edit, and solid editing knowledge allows the photographer to play more with light. That said, there are plenty of things you can do about substandard lighting in the post-production process that can save your photos. In this course, wedding photographer Daniel Kudish will conduct a live in-studio photo shoot with a real couple to show you how to create great lighting during your shoot so your editing process is easier. He’ll then do a full editing walkthrough in Lightroom® to demonstrate how to correct lighting problems and play with your lighting to bring your images to life.


Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, Adobe Photoshop CC 2018


Sara NAomi

So love the way Daniel explains the thought processes for the images. Calm mental very very helpful. The D+D pair are an amazing photographic team from the feelings, experience, teaching and the results of their vision. So want to take a class with them in person.

Carlos Rosa

Amazing, very short compared to other classes that I have, but it's really relevant, he goes straight to the point and there's a lot of great info, and that's what makes this class so good. I really like his style​ of teaching, very simple and clear, and that's what we need.


Excellent course! Daniel explains in details how to take the pictures and how to retouch them later. I like his easy and clear approach and the use of a lot of examples. I recommend this course to anyone.